El-Sayed comments on Western interference, the pandemic, health equity

September 28, 2022

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, Towsley Foundation Policymaker in Residence, provides analysis on health policy in the month of September:

Detroit's Community Health Corps forges forward, Axios Detroit, September 6, 2022

"When we think about all the programs that exist to support folks in Detroit, they're like the bricks, but oftentimes people fall through the cracks … so (this program is) the cement between the bricks," Abdul El-Sayed, a public health expert and former Detroit health director, tells Axios.

The last Monarch, Detroit Metro Times, September 14, 2022

"Over her 70-year reign, the queen would oversee the decolonization of many more African countries. And that’s why her reign, not by standards of the crown or even her own, but by the standards of justice, is the most successful reign of any British monarch in imperial history. Properly honoring her legacy would mean ending the institution of British monarchy itself.

As we grapple with the passing of Britain’s longest-serving monarch, it’s worth disaggregating the person from the personnage. The personnage was of a monarch — the living embodiment of the history and legacy of one of the world’s most ruthless, expansive global empires. Make no mistake, the British crown is a parasitic anachronism."

Malcolm Gladwell on Why What You Don’t See Can Help You, America Dissected, September 20, 2022

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: Vaccine hesitancy has left nearly 30% of Americans unvaccinated, and the vast majority of COVID deaths and hospitalizations are among those who’ve chosen not to be vaccinated. But what if COVID prevention was just in the water? How would that change uptake? And what would the response have been? Would it have saved lives? I sat down with Malcolm to discuss what he learned about the history of science, the state of science today, and how we implement what we know. Here’s my conversation with Malcolm Gladwell. 

Malcom Gladwell: Well, I mean, for a whole series of reasons, but one of them is that there is this sort of interesting opportunity post pandemic to talk about medicine and science because because the population has been educated in that subject, in I mean, it’s one of the few upsides of what we’ve been through. I hear ordinary people. I say ordinary like people who aren’t scientists or, you know, on the street talking about clinical trials and, you know, stage 2, you know, data and what the FDA is or isn’t doing. It’s kind of this amazing moment, if you’re interested in those subjects, to have a sophisticated conversation with people because people now know what you’re talking about. So that was part of it. And part of it as well was that um in a very kind of ideologically divided time. It’s great to talk about experiments because they require that you put your ideology aside. 

‘The pandemic is over.’ But, is it?, Detroit Metro Times, September 21, 2022

"Running through the finish line also requires us to recognize the toll of the race. The lasting impact of COVID isn’t only in the million Americans who’ve died and the millions more they’ve left behind. It’s also in the millions more suffering with long COVID. For them, the pandemic isn’t over — for many it’s just beginning. And the fact that we lack a firm understanding of what causes long COVID, how to prevent it, or how to treat it suggests that prematurely declaring the pandemic over may foreclose on the work we yet need to do to answer these basic questions.

I understand the political incentives President Biden is facing. The pandemic is not broadly popular and declaring it over is good politics going into a contentious midterm election. Yet the price of premature declarations could be high. Worse, it hampers the ability to truly bring the pandemic to an end."

The Gospel of Wellness with Rina Raphael, America Dissected, September 27, 2022

Dr. Abdul El-Sayed: The wellness industrial complex, it preys on our vulnerabilities, manipulates our insecurities, and takes advantage of us. So much of what actually improves our wellness is outside our control. Do you live in a neighborhood with walkable communities? Do you have a grocery store that sells green, leafy vegetables? Was the air you breathe poisoned by industry? Is the water you drink clean and pure? In that respect, the wellness industrial complex sells us the notion that we can control our own outcomes, but also implies that wellness that health is a set of individual choices when so many people lack those choices at all... By failing to pay attention to those nagging issues that are far more likely to affect women, people of color or disabled people, we’ve left millions of people exposed to this kind of wellness profiteering. I sat down with Rina Raphael, investigative journalist and author of the new book The Gospel of Wellness, to learn about how the wellness industry preys upon our insecurities, how it operates, and how we can immunize people against it.

Rina Raphael: I think it’s really telling that a lot of people are confused about what [wellness] actually is. But at it’s most basic level, it’s the pursuit of well-being outside the realm of medicine. So essentially, basically everything medicine and insurance won’t touch. It’s all the ways we want to physically, mentally or spiritually feel better -- that could include nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress management. The argument I make in the book is that there are such things as real wellness -- the ways we want to sleep better, to eat better, to feel better. And then there’s the ways it’s gotten muddied over the last decade where basically wellness can just as much mean meditation as it does activated charcoal toothpaste. There's been I would almost say a dumbing down about what we actually need. And this industry has really been infused with consumerism, productivity pressures, a whole bunch of things that I would say are not necessarily always making us healthier, which is the actual mission. 

Iran’s regime must be held accountable — by Iranians themselvesDetroit Metro Times, September 30, 2022

"The crackdown has been fast and brutal. The regime has blacked out internet access to keep the world from seeing their fury, which has claimed 76 lives already. Iranians in exile have watched helplessly as their sisters and brothers are killed for standing against the regime. This has led many to call for international action from Western governments. But nothing could hurt their cause more than Western interference."